Hyundai Sonata (2000)

Loved It

Hyundais redesigned Sonata is different from its predecessor in nearly every conceivable way which is a good thing, in our humble opinion. The Sonata was redesigned in 1999, and the 2000 Sonata we drove was essentially unchanged. The Sonata is nicely equipped, and its a pretty good value for the money.

Reliability

Hyundai is relatively new to the United States markets. But while some of their earlier efforts have been (how shall we say this politely) unmitigated junk, this new Sonata is a quantum leap ahead. And, Hyundai is putting their money where their mouth is with one of the best warranties in the car business. For 10 whole years or 100,000 miles, Hyundai will fix whatever goes wrong with the powertrain, which includes the engine, transmission and drive axles. The rest of the car is covered for 6 years or 60,000 miles. Hyundai is making a point here, and were impressed. One bit of advice, however... you might just want to make sure that your dealer isn't too far away, in case you have to make too frequent use of that warranty.

And its a good thing, Hyundai is offering such a great warranty. Why? Because the Sonata has the unenviable task of succeeding against some of the best-selling cars in North America, like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Driving Experience

Hyundai SonataOur car, a GLS, came equipped with Hyundais brand new, 2.5-liter V6 engine, matched with a four-speed automatic. It's so smooth, powerful and quiet, you might think you could perform a Bris in it. Okay, were lying. Its not that quiet. But it is as quiet as an Accord or a Camry, and for Hyundai, well, that ain't bad.

Unfortunately, the Sonatas engine is not quite up to the suspension. The underpinnings do an admirable job of providing a cushy ride, but the Sonata is not so hot when it comes to corners and bumps in the road. Granted, its not a BMW, but for the average person, it's not a bad car to drive.

Hyundai SonataThe Sonata shines around town and on short commutes. On the highway, having a little more bulk surrounding you wouldn t be such a bad thing. In the interest of research, we hopped right into our Sonata and drove it from Our Fair City to visit Toms wacko brother-in-law, Eugene, in Maine. With semis whizzing by on either side, it was a little scary, although it wasnt a total white-knuckle ride. The Sonata doesnt feel quite as massive as a Toyota Camry, a car that actually weighs only 90 pounds more. Of course, those 90 pounds are the nuts that Hyundai forgot to put on the bolts. (Just kidding, Hyundai.)

Interior

Inside, the velour-covered seats will make a good impression on your backside. They re supportive, well contoured and comfortable. Headroom and legroom come under the heading of perfectly adequate, no more and no less than most folks will need. Oddly enough, while the Sonata is within an inch of the Accord and Camry in most critical interior measurements, the car feels a half-size or so smaller.

Hyundai SonataYoull find plenty of spots inside the Sonata to stash road maps, Milky Way wrappers, unpaid parking tickets and the like.

In the bells and whistles department, Hyundai has gone above and beyond what you might expect. Air conditioning, a stereo CD player and power locks, windows and mirrors are all standard.

Once behind the wheel, youll be able to see out just fine. The rearmost pillar is a bit thick, but it doesnt present too much of a problem, and the tail is low enough to allow a good view out the back.

Side impact air bags are standard in this car, but antilock brakes are available only as part of an option package that will set you back a full 2,600 dineros.

Ergonomics

Everything is nicely laid out, with easy-to-operate knobs. The ventilation controls are particularly well done. There are only two nits worth picking: the radio, with its persnickety little buttons (Memo to Hyundai: If this radio does have a scan function, we sure as hell couldnt find it), and the annoying seat belt warning. If we were card-carrying NRA members, that beeping would cease the moment we unloaded a couple of clips into the damned thing.

Overall comments

Hyundai SonataThe new Sonatas won't remind anyone of its predecessors, which bore an uncanny resemblance to the packing crates they came in. The front is sort of "me, too" bland, but the rear is especially nicely done, with taillights that remind us of a Lincoln Town Car. And, Hyundai gets a gold star for resisting the urge to tack a spoiler onto the trunk lid. (Subaru, Mitsubishi, Toyota... are you listening?)

Overall comments

We like the Sonata. Perhaps best of all, the Sonata GLS comes with a bargain-basement price tag of $16,999; equipped as ours was, with an automatic transmission, and some other trinkets, the total comes to about $18,000. A comparable Accord or Camry would cost a minimum of $4,000 more.

The Sonata would be a good choice for a young person who wants a decent sized car, a family with a limited budget, or a commuter wholl settle for a limited pizzazz quotient. One warning, though: watch out if youre the sort of person who likes to trade in your car every couple of years or so. You may find that the Hyundai's lower resale value actually makes the car more costly in the short run than an Accord or Camry.


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